Re-framing is a really powerful tool when it comes to negative thoughts. By making a conscious effort to re-frame you come up with an alternative interpretation of an event. Re-framing is used in cognitive behavioural therapy to help you change the meaning of information, i.e. the way that you interpret information. This is helpful as we add meaning to information that we take in when generally there is no meaning. Instead of keeping this information at its basic level, we add meaning and this leads to negative thoughts and in turn negative behaviour. Our irrational thoughts are not based on facts they are based on the what if, so we have to dispute these thoughts.
Anxiety is in all of us and is essentially our fear of something that may happen in the future. Anxiety can be controlled and many of us will see potential fear in a situation but will give it no real notice and move on, however for those of us who develop and become irrational our fears will become worse and we will see events as becoming catastrophic, i.e. we will think the worse will happen in everything that we are fearful off. For example driving a car on the motorway will lead to a 5 car pile up and potentially a fatal injury. If we did not re-frame this thought we would never be able to drive anywhere.
What we have to do is look at the situation, consider the thoughts going through our mind, stop and re-consider these thoughts, be objective and look for an alternative thought that will make you feel better and put you in a more positive frame of mind. Negative thoughts can be re-framed and be replaced with positive thoughts, but it takes practice.
So how do we start?
I believe that journaling is vitally important in helping to re frame negative thoughts.No matter what time of day, if you have negative thoughts write them down. Take the thought from your mind and onto a piece of paper. You can then look for patterns in the thinking and it maybe that you have the same thoughts on the same days at the the same times after certain triggers.
The negative thought may be at the forefront of your mind after you start work. An example being - I am feeling very anxious about a meeting I am due to have today with my boss. I hate meetings and I hate discussing my work with my boss. I feel under pressure at the moment, I have a large workload and child care means that I have to mess around with my working days.
When it occurred?
I had these thoughts this morning, my boss seemed to be annoyed with me, he has hardly spoken to me, I have finished a long running project and passed it on but there was no acknowledgement of my hard work and on top of this I need to try and finish early today.
What behaviour is being displayed?
Self criticism, worry, lack of confidence, faulty thinking, presumption, irrational thoughts.
What are your thoughts about the situation? (feelings and emotions)
I am dreading being at work for the rest of the day, I feel anxious, worthless and frustrated.
Evidence that could negate the negative thought? Create alternative thoughts.
I had a very good 6 month appraisal, I have just had a bonus, I don't always get praise for my work, they cannot praise me all the time, I know I have high standards, I step in for my boss quite often in meetings and briefings, they give my important tasks and projects to work on. I always make up my hours if I have to leave early and it has never been a problem.
Write down your feelings and emotions after you have re-framed.
I had the meeting with my boss and it went really well. We spoke about things that concerned me and the lack of acknowledgement in relation to the complicated project I had completed ahead of time. I was also re-assured in relation to my child care and leaving work early.
I feel relieved, confident, positive and I am ready to progress in my career. I had a problem, I faced it and I was proactive in my approach to my negative thinking.
When you spot the patterns in your negative thinking you can help re-frame by arming yourself with positive thinking. You should not be limited due to these negative beliefs and of course negative thinking will lead to negative behaviour that will affect your day when it did not have to. So journal and replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” – Winston Churchill
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Practitioner | Wellness Consultant |
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